Cal Fire Crew Cuts


This is a quote from two weeks ago in Newsweek about the inmate fire program: “ It costs the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation $81,458 each year to house and care for each inmate, according to press secretary Vicky Waters.” This same article states there are 3,400 inmate firefighters in the program. So doing the math it costs $276,975,200 a year to house and care for inmate firefighters. Mind you these figures above come from Newsweek. Just food for thought.


CF Crews Are Type 1 status. FYI.


As I said… We are going to house them whether they fight fire or not. Really really simple mathematical equations


So the question is in camp they cost roughly $82,000. How much do they cost incarcerated in a regular facility vs in the camp environment and what is the return on investment on the work and money they save while in a camp environment based on being in a regular institution.


That’s easy. in the institutions they get 3 hots and a cot, regardless if their working in the prison or not. At CF fire camp. they work five days a week + Fire assignments giving back to the community. Fuels reductions, type A & B Fallers and all kinds of various projects. Remember most of that cost includes the CDCR staffing. When I did fire packs for my camp, that is where the higher cost was in the equation.


Just so you are aware those numbers in Newsweek are a statewide average not camp numbers. Those numbers include death row, all of the free legal defense that our tax dollars provide, not to mention the amazing medical care and electrified fences that cost thousands per day to operate at maximum security prisons. I happen to know personally that the number given in Newsweek is a statewide average for all inmates. I also know that camps is a mere fraction of that cost. The State will never give you individual numbers as it would be appalling to see some of them not to mention the difficulty of separating medical costs ect.


There are so many side costs that I don’t think we take into consideration. Like the wear and tear on the facilities, the damage they do to the busses, the cost of drug screenings, etc…


It would be nice to see the actual numbers for camp. Not just to clothe and house inmates but the total cost to run the program.


And use Firefighter 1’s, a resolution was already passed at convention in 2010 for Firefighter 1 handcrews. Units such a San Diego and Sonoma Lake Napa plus others have been using FF1 handcrews in the winter for fuels reduction then putting the FF1’s back on engines in the summer.

If we had true year around FF1 handcrews the configuration goes as follows 1 captain 2 engineers 16 FF1. Somewhat similar to the configuration of IHC’s.

I am saying that the department should looking to additional options to stabilize our handcrews because as we all know in the last few years we have seen a massive reduction in the amount of available inmates and as a result a reduction in crew numbers. Also the crews we do have do not stay together for very long, not like it used to be where over years together crews would see a small turnover rate so most of the crew had worked with each other for a long period of time, today a lot of our crews are a revolving door.


You know there are over 100 hotshot crews, all employing firefighters, all with very low vacancy rates, all cutting the same hotline our crews cut.


Our crews have CF type 1 status if you look at type 1 requirements under NWCG, there are many items our crews do not meet.


Why not have both inmate camps and FFI camps?


Inmate crews cut a 6ft scrape, not even close to comparing shot crews.


There is no comparison between the two Hotshots and CF Crews. The capabilities of a hotshot crew and a CF crew are completely different. The issue here is a reduction in firefighting capability. Not the color of the rig the fire personnel show up in.


LOL not to mention when we super crew and cut freeways when needed. I agree the issue is having a reduction in FF capabilities. Remember that’s you tax base burning up out there with multiple structural & lives lost.


Well said.


With the realignment of prisoners to counties, to bad those counties that don’t have a camp program adopt cdcr programs. This would add a new labor force in flat land counties, and could augment mtz fires. River bottom in flat counties can use fuel reduction crews, and suppression crews just as much as mountainous areas.


Alot of counties are choosing to send people to the camp program to relieve the pressure on the local facilities. CDCR then charged the county the cost to keep them in the camps.


Okay. From what I’ve seen this year with all cf camps is whether they been told to go with 15 and that cuts the crews down or try to maintain 12 or more to keep more crews. The whole problem is on CDC side. Which they need to keep pumping bodies out that are grade eligible and get them to the camps. Instead they are only pumping out five or six and camps aren’t even getting grade eligible. This is how CDC is showing there numbers and which is bs. As for going paid ff crews in cf is not going to happen at all, it will cost way to much for being type II status. Cf inmate crews are just type II status period. What also needs to happen is better management from south opts and north opts as in placing crews around california. Just what I have seen this year.


Sir the number of inmates on a fire crew does not tag them as “type II”. As long as their are used on active fireline w/ or w/o hoselay support They are Type 1. I have cut and put out many a fire in my career without a drop of water on it. Please get properly informed what qualifies a CF fire crew as type 1 or Type 2. We have Baustista drills every year to determine this, plus fire assignments required you have to perform to have “Type 1” status.


In the new State of California budget, they will have money to permanently staff 6 CAL FIRE hand crews. I am not sure where the will be housed other than Butte. These cews are basically like the forest brushing crews, with type 2IA typing.